Alpha Phi's Role in My Journey of Becoming Miss Texas

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By: Jacqueline Petescia PC’18

My Junior Year, I moved from San Diego, California to Southlake, Texas. It was an emotional whirlwind that I had never expected. Suddenly my plans of spending the rest of my life on the beach had been demolished in a matter of days, and I had been ripped from the friends I had grown up with my entire life. I was now living halfway across the country from any sort of social comfort.

I struggled so hard to make friends arriving junior year in a place where everyone had gone to school together since kindergarten. Throughout my junior and senior year, my friend groups seemed to change so often. I felt as though I was being passed along from friend group to friend group trying to find my home. I was a floater, an outsider looking in on what I had once had in San Diego.

Although so much had changed with the move, I had one constant in my life that I knew would be there no matter which state I lived in; The Miss America Organization. Although my love for this scholarship organization was able to thrive in my new environment, something was still missing. People at school would treat me as though my passion for volunteering through the Miss America Program was something to be seen as a disgrace. I felt as though I was constantly defending myself against “Toddlers in Tiaras” remarks and how if I compete in pageants, (which the Miss America Program is NOT a pageant but a scholarship competition) I must be dumb and incapable of achieving a higher education from any university. Especially one as prestigious as The University of Texas at Austin.

I was really and truly deeply hurting. Not just from the ignorant remarks of people who didn’t take the time to get to know me or what the Miss America Program is really about, but also from the assumptions they had made about me based upon those stereotypes. I remember seeing everyone’s posts on Instagram and snapchat with their friends and my heart would begin to feel so heavy. I would bawl to my parents about how I wish I could have that. How I wish I had a group of girls who would support each other, rely on each other, and protect each other. It sounds so silly to say it out loud now, but I would pray each night for just a few friends to help me not feel so lonely. My dad kept telling me that I just needed to be patient and that my time would come. That the universe was going to make up for what it had taken away from me and add even more to my life. I didn’t believe him but in typical dad style, he proved me wrong.

By the middle of my senior year, my luck started to turn around. I was beyond ecstatic to have been admitted into my dream school, The University of Texas at Austin with not one but two majors in Health & Society/ Pre-Med and Government/ Pre-Law with a minor in Nonprofits. The people I had gone to high school with, who had told me I was too dumb to ever get into UT, suddenly realized that their close-minded outlook had affected their own future more than mine. While rushing for a sorority, I had felt a strong connection to one house in particular. Although all of the houses had great girls, there was one house that was A PHInominal one. There was no need to pretend to be something I was not. Just raw and unconditional love from Alpha Phi.

They embraced the fact that I compete through the Miss America Organization and wanted to know and learn more. They were the first people to cheer for me when I won Miss Austin and constantly ask how they can help support me in my endeavors towards Miss Texas. As I compete for Miss Texas this year for the second time, I know that their unconditional love and support is going to make all of the difference between when I stepped out on that stage in previous years, and when I do it in again at the end of June.

Rather than grieve over the fears I have around facing social isolation, I’ve decided that I’d rather place that energy into helping others who face discrimination and isolation every day, by creating a nonprofit foundation called “Friendship for All Abilities- Creating Inclusive Friendships”. The focus is to help kids with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities become involved inside of their community and create friendships. An idea I came up with thanks to the Miss America Program because being involved inside of my community through it was, and still is, a way for me to make friends.

I finally feel truly happy again, like the girl I was before the move. For my Alpha Phi sisters, how people viewed me in high school doesn’t matter. They love me for who I am and support what I do. Which is the only thing I could ever ask for from my sisters and want to give in return. It’s so cheesy but I wish that I could thank them every day for the love and joy that they have brought back into my life. They fill me with drive, help me to see the purpose in the work I am doing in school and towards Miss Texas, and add meaning to each day of my life. They boost my ego but also humble me. They lift me up when I’m down and help me to get out of my head when I’m having anxiety. They are always in attendance at every major event I have and are there ready to help the second I need it. Because of Alpha Phi, I know there are 60+ girls in my membership class alone that I could go to for whatever reason at any time.

I’d like to give a big thank you to my sisters who not only support and love me unconditionally but who do it for each other each and every day. We may not always recognize it or see it, but we know that the connection and love we have for each other is always there. Thank you to my sisters who help me to work towards my goal of becoming Miss Texas. Each and every one of you is my inspiration to help spread my message of inclusion. But most importantly, thank you Texas Alpha Phi for giving me my sisters who made me myself again.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

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By: Sarah Scribner PC '17

I’ve always been told that I resemble my mother. From the tone I use to answer the phone to the organizational style of my agenda, there’s no doubt that I am my mother’s daughter. We use animated gestures whenever we talk, we eat spoonfuls of peanut butter out of the jar, we dance around the house singing along to Michael Bublé, we use the same words at the same time to describe the most random things, we laugh until tears prick the corners of our eyes, and, most importantly, we tell each other everything. But who knew, by the start of my freshman year, we would turn out to be sisters, too?

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through recruitment. The summer before college, I was sitting at the kitchen table one night with my laptop in front of me, staring dejectedly at the blank recruitment application with the deadline looming over my head. My mom was tinkering around in the kitchen, silent but attentive, waiting to see what I would do. After scrolling through, I spotted the question asking me why I wanted to join a sorority. I looked up at the ceiling to reflect and then found myself directing the question to my mom, curious for her answer. She paused for a moment, and with a warm smile, shared that she met her best friends through Alpha Phi. My mother’s maid of honor and my godmother are both Alpha Phis, and she has kept up with them all these years. She went on to say that Alpha Phi was an instrumental force in making her feel comfortable and welcomed at UT throughout her college career, especially when the workload was overwhelming and the process of adjusting to college was daunting. The connections and memories she made through Alpha Phi ultimately made all the difference in her college experience and beyond and she felt she couldn’t be more grateful to Alpha Phi after everything the organization gave her. Moved by her words, I finished the application that night and submitted it, excited by the prospect of what was to come.

At the start of recruitment, I was nothing short of dazed and confused. The first wave of the chanting, the conversations, the clothes, and the cuts came in an absolute blur. I was paranoid, insecure, awkward, and sweaty for the duration of Open House—writing everything down so I wouldn’t forget the houses and praying the houses wouldn’t forget about me. The calm amid the chaos came when I arrived at Alpha Phi’s doorstep. There, I met wonderful girls who shared my interests and made me feel welcome. Toward the end of the visit, my cousin Allie tapped me on the shoulder to give me a quick wave and it brought a huge smile to my face to know that she was there, looking out for me. It wasn’t until the next round that I felt completely more at ease with the process, because by then, I just had six houses left. While I enjoyed my time in the other houses, for the second day of Philanthropy, I only had Alpha Phi and I was elated. For the craft, each prospective new member took a paper heart and wrote down the name of someone she looked up to. Without hesitation, I wrote down my mom’s name and proceeded to have a wonderful conversation with Alpha Phi actives about having close relationships with our moms. On Preference Night, as emotions were running high, Allie led the ceremony where we all put on our ivy crowns. She looked out over the rows of girls as she spoke and near the end of her speech, she made eye contact with me, smiled, and said, “You belong here”. And that’s when I knew I was home.

A (happy) tearful phone call with my mother followed thereafter in my dorm room as I relayed what happened and we were both desperately hoping that I would see Alpha Phi on my Bid Day card the next morning. And sure enough, once I opened the envelope and saw the Alpha Phi crest peeking through the top, I couldn’t contain my joy. I raced home full of adrenaline with my new sisters, not knowing that several of my new sisters were already there waiting to surprise me. My mom wrapped me up in her arms, crying and laughing, while my godmother, her daughter, Amanda (also an Alpha Phi), and Allie came over for more hugs and photographs.

Flash forward to sophomore year, and here I am, proudly serving as the Director of Alumnae Relations and writing this post in Room 5, where I currently live and my mother used to live during her time in the house.

I owe more to Alpha Phi than I will ever be able to return, because it’s given me the ability to find new ways to grow closer to my family. From attending Bid Day and Initiation to giving me suggestions for engagement events to coordinate for alumni, my mother, my godmother, Amanda, and Allie have been there through it all and shared in some of my favorite college experiences in an incredibly special and meaningful way. They are also direct links to Alpha Phi’s past, so I know there’s much for me to learn about Alpha Phi that I haven’t already discovered and I’m sure there’s a wealth of stories about their experiences that have yet to be shared with me.

As our Constitution states, “We have banded ourselves together to improve our minds and hearts, and we seek to aid each other through a constant watch-care always given in love.”

And I’m lucky enough to say that this is another thing my mom and I have in common.

Thanks, Mom. I love you most.

Union Hand in Hand with Texas Alpha Phi

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By: Angela Choi PC '16

When I first came to campus last fall, I was so worried about fitting in and making friends. College was a whole new playing ground, and it was one that I wasn’t sure that I was going to survive in. I felt sort of lost and scared, and a part of me felt like I was missing something. After becoming a member of the Omega chapter of Alpha Phi at The University of Texas, I realized what I had been missing all along… A group of girls that I could call not only my friends, but also my sisters. I found exactly where I was meant to be. And, well, that was home.

Many people don’t usually say this, but Mondays are definitely my favorite days. Why you ask? Well, the answer is easy. It’s because The Bachelor, a new, fresh start to the week, and chapter meetings… which means great food and time spent with even better girls. I remember my first chapter meeting and how nervous I was making the walk from my dorm to the house. Worrisome thoughts began to creep into my mind as I got closer and closer to the house. I had known a couple girls in Alpha Phi, but there were definitely more girls than just the few that I was friends with. But, once I walked in, all those thoughts disappeared, and I felt at ease.

Greek life often gets a bad rep for things that are portrayed in movies or preconceived notions that other people have. But, I can honestly say that it’s far from the truth. The first moment that I had walked through the double doors of the Alpha Phi house, I knew that it felt right. There were girls walking around laughing with each other or sitting on the couches hard at work, with their faces burrowed into their textbook. All around me, I saw so many girls that were so well-rounded and wholesome, but all in different ways. I’ve learned that you don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to have everything in your life figured out. And, through Alpha Phi, I have met so many girls that I can grow together with. The girls are so humble, yet confident, in exactly who they are. They each inspire me in more ways than one.

Though simple words could never be enough to truly encompass my gratitude, there are a few things I’d like to thank Alpha Phi for…

Thank you Texas Alpha Phi for showing me sisterhood—Alpha Phi has given me friends to have sleepovers with in our cramped freshman year dorm room. Because, honestly, no matter if we were to be in a box or in the biggest bed in the world, we will always have a good time. The friendships that I have made truly are genuine and real. These girls are, hands down, the best friends that I could ever ask for.

Thank you Texas Alpha Phi for making me into the best version of myself—Being an Alpha Phi at Texas gives me so many amazing girls to look up to. Girls with all different majors, girls from other states, girls with different views, and the list could go on. But, no matter where I am, or who I am with, I know that I can always find myself growing, and learning, from all the unique girls that surround me.

Thank you Texas Alpha Phi for giving me a huge support system— I know that whatever I do, I will have girls being my biggest supporters and standing beside me along whatever journey I find myself on. It could be three a.m. or two in the afternoon, and I would still be able to call my friends and vent as I find myself a little lost.

Alpha Phi has become my sweet home away from home and has given me girls that will not just be in my life for four years, but instead they will be with me for life. So, thank you Texas Alpha Phi, for giving a simple girl like me the opportunity to wear our letters with such pride and joy. I made the best decision ever, and I joined the Ivy League.

Big Little Reveal

By: Torey Barnes

As ironic as it may sound, I met my family Freshman year. My whole life people had told me that college was the time to say goodbye to family and feel the homesickness set in, hopefully meet some new friends and yada yada yada… In my opinion, those people had never experienced Big/Little reveal because I am sure that if they had shared a similar experience to my own, they would have to understand that meeting “new friends” does not even come close to the overwhelming love and friendship that my Alpha Phi family brought to me.

I had originally thought that the day I received my bid from Alpha Phi would be the happiest moment of my life as a member. In my then small-minded perspective, that was it. It had set the bar. That is until the big/little reveal, when my entire outlook of what I considered my “happiest moment” was forever changed.

On the actual day, after days of much awaited anticipation, I arrived at the Alpha Phi house where I anxiously awaited with my sisters. We got the OK and sprinted to the decorated boxes in front of the house where my big sprung out like a Jack-in-the-box. Needless to say, this surprise easily exceeded a little clown in a tin box. Not only did I feel my excitement, but I could see the excitement of all of my sisters around me as they found and expanded their own families. I smiled harder than I think I ever had in my entire life, and not just because we snapped about 1000 pictures together.

Today, almost 2 years later, my big still means everything to me, and she was everything I expected and more. Having my best friend as my twin made it even better. Suddenly, I had a family to laugh, cry, and laugh some more with, to group text “movie night tonight??” and “who wants Chik-fil-a?” all-the-while wondering how I ever didn’t know them. As more and more memories were made, I soon came to realize that there would never truly be one “happiest moment”. My entire existence as an Alpha Phi would be an ongoing collection of the happiest moments, the majority made possible because of my amazing family and the memories we shared together.

Seven Things That My Sisters Have Taught Me

By: Angela Choi- PC '16

I think that it’s pretty safe that say that we all enter college extremely nervous. We wonder who we will meet, the memories that we will make, and the people that we will experience those memories with. As we go through the motions of our daily lives on the Forty Acres, it can be really easy to get caught up in it all. Then, before we know it, a whole year has flown by… or maybe even three or four. But, luckily, we have our sisters to by our side that make each moment so memorable. Here are seven things that I have learned from my sisters.

 

“My sisters taught me how to be comfortable in my own skin and accept where I am in life—I remember when I was really nervous about coming into a sorority. I was so intimidated by the strong women that I was surrounded by. But, when I actually got to know the girls and make those lasting connections, I was able to truly understand how blessed I was to be in a group of girls as confident to be themselves as Alpha Phi is.”

Cam Hill—PC ‘16

 

“Being in Alpha Phi has taught me that family isn’t defined by last name. They always support you, respect you, help you grow, and are there for you through the good times and the bad. I’m from California, so coming to UT was a huge adjustment for me. I was leaving my family for the first time, and I didn’t know anybody when I moved to Texas. When I thought I wasn’t able to go home for Thanksgiving my freshman year, they welcomed me into their homes with open arms. When I was sick, and my mom couldn’t bring me chicken noodle soup, they were at my door with a piping hot bowl. Alpha Phi has given me a family that I know will be there for me long past my time at UT.”

Shh, this one’s a secret! Rush Texas Alpha Phi and find out who this sweet sista is!  

 

“My sisters have taught me to enjoy the time I have to spend with my family. One of the best things about APhi has been my family. Having older members of the chapter that you can always go to for advice is great and being able to pass that down to my little, grand little, and great grand little has been awesome. I’m so glad that I’ve had them with me through all of college and beyond and leaving the little ones for the real world is definitely one of the hardest things about graduating.”

Becci Brady – PC ‘13

 

“One thing I learned from my sisters is that you can literally make any adventure fun. One of my favorite memories from this semester was when my friend Sarah and I went to the Apple store to get my phone fixed. We had been up really late the night before and were completely delusional. We made friends with the guy who helped me fix my phone and told him crazy stories about the last time we got my phone fixed! He was so amused with us that he forgot to ask me if my phone had water damage (which it did) and just replaced it for free. So, yeah, sometimes the best memories come out of situations you don’t expect/think are going to be super boring.”

Morgan Miller – PC ’16

 

“Something that I’ve learned from my Alpha Phi sisters is that no matter what your interests or goals are, your sisters will find a way to support you. In terms of my own interests, I started applying to the Archer Fellowship Undergraduate Program (a semester long fellowship that lets me live, learn, and intern in Washington, D.C.) over 6 months ago. As one of the most selective Undergraduate Fellowships here at UT, the process was long and mentally straining, to say the least. But, I found so much relief and support from my sisters, who went out of their way to give me advice. Then, once I was offered a spot in the program they were the first ones to celebrate my achievement with me.”

Jane Cook – PC ‘15

 

“If there is one thing that I have learned from my sisters, it’s that there is no such thing as a perfect person, and it’s okay to fail. My sisters have shown me how to pick and choose what I do in order to be my happiest, most productive self. I remember how I was so upset when I got my first B in Calculus freshman year. My sisters let me sit and complain, but what they helped me realize is that I had to learn to find a balance between everything. Since, then I have strived to find balance in my life and go to my sisters whenever I need encouragement. I go to them because they can relate to the challenges that I face. Together, we remind ourselves that perfection doesn’t exist, and it’s okay to be less than perfect as long as we are happy.”  

Sydney Hale – PC ‘14

 

“I’ve learned from my sisters how to experience life’s little moments with each other. There are so many Alpha Phis that run the Longhorn Run every year, and there are girls who stood outside and cheered the rest of us on. Some girls also ran the Austin marathon and others went downtown with posters and water to cheer on our girls (and drive their tired legs home afterwards, haha).”

Julianna Washington – PC ‘13